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Mission Motors' electric motorcycle surpasses speed record by more than 80 mph

September 15, 2009 |  5:00 am

MissionMotorsatBonneville

The salt was mushy and the crosswinds were fierce, but that didn't stop Mission Motors from setting the land-speed record for an electric motorcycle Sept. 1 during the annual BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials at Utah's Bonneville Speedway.

The production prototype for the San Francisco-based company reached a top speed of 161 mph, and set the official record at 150.059 mph -- obliterating the 68.848 mph record set by Electrobike, also of San Francisco, in 2007.

"We were pretty excited to just have some place to officially show that we can do what we said we can do," said Forrest North, Mission's founder and chief executive.

When Mission Motors unveiled its Mission One at the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference in Long Beach this year, it boasted of a machine that could not only reach 150 mph but travel 150 miles on a charge -- a claim that seemed apocryphal considering current and soon-to-be-released battery technologies, even for a bike that wasn't going to go into production until some time in 2010. Competing in the world's first electric superbike race on the Isle of Man just a couple months after its initial unveiling, the Mission One fell far short of its maker's claim, reaching a top speed of 100.6 mph on the 37.7-mile course and placing fourth out of nine finishers.

But Mission's showing at Bonneville indicates the company may be able to live up to what it's billing after all. In the three months since competing at the Isle of Man, with the exact same machine, Mission's engineers were able to extract 50% more peak power from the motor through changes to the motor controller and software.

"I definitely think we can make it go faster," said North. "Right now, our powertrain is around 90% efficient from the battery pack to the road surface, including losses in the electronics, motor and drivetrain. We really haven't even hit the limit of what we can do right now with today's technology."

Maybe, just maybe, the $68,995 Mission is charging for its groundbreaking e-sportbike will be worth it.

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Mission Motors

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